EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Juarez authorities are investigating whether a 39-year-old woman who died this week of apparent pneumonia at a Mexican Social Security hospital was infected with COVID-19.
The woman died after coming to the IMSS-66 hospital in Juarez with pneumonia-like symptoms, Chihuahua state Medical Director Arturo Valenzuela Zorrilla said on Thursday.
“It’s a possibility,” Valenzuela said in a news release issued by state authorities after a Juarez newspaper broke the story on Thursday. “The Ministry of Health has given instructions that any person with a serious, acute respiratory illness must be tested to confirm or dismiss COVID-19.”
Valenzuela stressed that as of Thursday no new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Juarez, where the tally stands at four. Two additional cases have been confirmed in the state capital of Chihuahua.
If testing confirms it, this would be the first COVID-19 related death in the region. El Paso, Texas remained at 21 as of Thursday afternoon, not including seven in Fort Bliss. Neighboring Dona Ana County, N.M., has reported 13 cases.
In addition, the same IMSS-66 hospital in Juarez where the man showed up with pneumonia-like symptoms and later died will be testing three other patients suspected of being infected with the virus, according to El Diario de Juarez.
In El Paso, meantime, the Department of Public Health announced that a drive-thru COVID-19 specimen collection site will collect specimens of seniors 65 years of age or older who have a temperature of 99.6 degrees or higher.
“We are moving into the second phase of our testing and are now focusing our efforts on members of our community who may belong to high risk groups and could be more seriously affected by the disease,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, El Paso City/County Health Authority.
No doctor laboratory order is needed for seniors to have their specimens collected but they must meet the criteria of having a temperature of 99.6 F or higher. The testing is free and requires no insurance coverage.
Seniors can make an appointment by calling (915) 494-0982 during operational hours of Monday thru Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Location of the collection specimen drive-thru site will be provided when the appointment is made. Participants should not take any fever reducing medications prior to their appointment.
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